The Tools of Recovery


In working Overeaters Anonymous’ Twelve Step program of recovery from compulsive overeating, we have found a number of tools* to assist us. We use these tools regularly to help us achieve and maintain abstinence and recover from our disease.

A Plan of EatingSponsorshipMeetingsTelephoneWritingLiteratureAction PlanAnonymityService

In Overeaters Anonymous (OA), the Statement on Abstinence and Recovery is:

Abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. Spiritual, emotional and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Step program.

see policy 1988b in the OA policy manual, used with permission

Many of us have found we cannot abstain from compulsive eating unless we use some or all of OA’s nine tools of recovery to help us practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.


A Plan of Eating

A plan of eating helps us abstain from compulsive eating. This tool helps us deal with the physical aspects of our disease and achieve physical recovery. (See the pamphlets Dignity of Choice and A Plan of Eating for more information.)



We ask a sponsor to help us through our program of recovery on all three levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. Find a sponsor who has what you want and ask that person how he or she is achieving it.



Meetings give us an opportunity to identify our common problem, confirm our common solution through the Twelve Steps and share the gifts we receive through this program. In addition to face-to-face meetings, OA offers telephone and online meetings. (Find an OA Meeting.)



Many members call, text or email their sponsors and other OA members daily. Telephone or electronic contact also provides an immediate outlet for those hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.



Putting our thoughts and feelings down on paper helps us to better understand our actions and reactions in a way that is often not revealed to us by simply thinking or talking about them.



We read OA-approved books, pamphlets and Lifeline magazine. Reading literature daily reinforces how to live the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.  ( bookstore)


Action Plan

An action plan is the process of identifying and implementing attainable actions that are necessary to support our individual abstinence. Just like our plan of eating, it may vary widely among members and may need to be adjusted to bring structure, balance and manageability into our lives.



Anonymity guarantees we will place principles before personalities and assures us that only we have the right to make our membership known within our community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication means that we never allow our faces or last names to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members.

Within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA member will be held in respect and confidence. What we hear at meetings should remain there.



Any form of service that helps reach a fellow sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery. Members can give service by getting to meetings, putting away chairs, putting out literature and talking to newcomers. Beyond the group level, a member can serve as intergroup representative, committee chair, region representative or Conference delegate.

As OA’s responsibility pledge states: “Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this, I am responsible”      

from The Tools of Recovery (abridged)

copyright held by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc., used with permission


* Delegates at the 2011 World Service Business Conference (WSBC) approved a definition of the Action Plan tool and expanded the Statement on Abstinence. Both of these changes are included in the text above. You can also download an addendum to the Tools of Recovery pamphlet.